On Saturday 14th July, Trevor Simpson by-passed the defenders: Wimbledon, the World Cup and a hot, blue sky day in Yorkshire to strike gold for Keighley Library in a talk about – you’ve guessed it – local music heritage. He was as hot as Billy Fury and music events’ mogul, Janet Mawson, was as relieved as Gareth Southgate when an audience of upward of 70 people turned out. In fact the Library was very lucky to get Trevor because, as a former referee, if his talk had been scheduled for the afternoon of the previous week, when the dream was very much alive and England was taking on Sweden, he would probably have shown us the red card.
Trevor Simpson has two passions in life: football and music, or is that music and football? As a referee, he officiated for the football league at the highest level for every club except West Ham United. He even put Gaza in his place during a Tottenham versus Manchester United match at White Hart Lane. He was also a linesman at a World Cup qualifier but enough said on that score. Musically, Trevor started out as a mobile disc jockey and moved on to hospital radio in December, 1981 and is still a DJ after some 37 years. He reckons it is well worth breaking a leg to get in to hospital to listen to his show. One of his more amusing requests was for Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire from a chap who was recovering from a haemorrhoid operation. However, it was in the days after the war when music began to change again and youth culture began to grow, along with Saturday night culture, that Trevor, with a real feel for social history and a recognition that those days marked unique and exciting change, began to collate and collect memorabilia and information about the local music scene that he so loved. He used this information and first-hand experience to write and illustrate two original, bestselling books. Both called Small Town Saturday Night, the first volume is a musical journey through the 1960s, chronicling the development of the popular music culture in the next town from Keighley, Halifax. The second volume continues with the story of the dance halls, groups, the Champion Jack Dupree and the two local music festivals, looking at the period 1954-1970.
These two books formed the basis of the talk and although the focus was on Halifax, it translated well to a love affair with the music scene in virtually any 1960s Northern town. In fact, some in the audience had been to the same venues and gigs as Trevor, including Keighley’s musical heritage volunteer, Malcolm Hanson, who remembered trips to Halifax, especially to the Princess Ballroom, with his friends, often walking there and staggering back in the early hours to Denholme. We heard about the acts such as Dusty Springfield, Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Rod Stewart, Shirley Bassey and the time the Jackson Five were given a sound ticking off for being tardy about their second set after a brotherly bust-up before the show. Stories of colourful entrepreneurs were of equal interest from the young, ambitious dance instructor, Pearl Paling of the Princess Ballroom; the three huge wrestlers, Shirley Crabtree (alias, “Big Daddy”) and his brothers, to the budding entrepreneur who refused to book, “the Be-attles” with “someone called Cilla Black” because in true Yorkshire fashion, they were, “How much?!!..”. Trevor also illustrated these stories and anecdotes with a film he made of all the venues he spoke of. We also heard a cassette of some of the stars that had kindly recorded “hello” to the patients for his hospital radio show, including that someone called Cilla Black. All this really made the history come to life and the whole experience was an enjoyable and memorable one to match such a major sporting day. Let’s hope for a return visit please.
The next Keighley Musical Heritage event will be held on Heritage Day, 15th September and will be a celebration of the 1970s hosted by volunteer, Malcolm Hanson, who is still gathering memorabilia from bands and fans. Malcolm can be contacted for this at the following:
Email: Malcolm.firstname.lastname@example.org or call Malcolm on 01756 798730
Sadly, the two great books by Trevor Simpson packed full of information, photographs and memorabilia are now out of print but we do hold reference copies in Keighley’s Local Studies Library.
Small Town Saturday Night by Trevor Simpson (Milltown Memories Publications, Hebden Bridge, 2007), ISBN 978-0-9548960-2-7
Small Town Saturday Night (Volume Two) by Trevor Simpson (Milltown Memories Publications, Hebden Bridge, 2008), ISBN 978-0-9548960-3-4